Rice Returns To "The Dance"
C-USA Champion Owls Earn League's Automatic Bid
The Rice baseball team (31-29 overall and Conference USA tournament champions) is back in the NCAA Tournament this week as regional play begins Friday (June 2) at 16 sites across the country. The Owls travel to Louisiana for a second-straight year as a member of the four team Baton Rouge Regional. The Blue & Gray is the No. 3 seed of a group that consists of No. 4 national seed and host LSU (43-17), No. 2 regional seed Southeastern Louisiana (36-20) and No. 4 seed and crosstown foe Texas Southern (20-32).
Rice Meets Southeastern Louisiana In Regional's Opening Game
The Owls face the Southeastern Louisiana Lions at 7 pm on Friday in the double-elimination tournament format. LSU and Texas Southern play at 2 pm. The game times for both Saturday and Sunday (June 3-4) are also scheduled for 2 pm and 7 pm, with the early games serving as an elimination game. If the Regional champion has not been determined after Sunday night's possible championship game, there will be one extra game played on Monday (June 5) at 7 pm if necessary.
Watch The Regional's First Game On ESPN3
Every game of the Regional is scheduled for broadcast, either on ESPN3 or the SEC Network (when host LSU is playing). Broadcasters Dave Neal (play-by-play) and former No. 1 overall Major League Draft pick Ben McDonald (analysis) have all the calls this weekend.
Play-By-Play Audio On The Web
Every Rice baseball game is scheduled for a live audio broadcast on the Internet at RiceOwls.com. Tune-in to the broadcast's pregame show 15 minutes before first pitch. J.P. Heath is in his ninth season as the voice of the Owls.
Follow The Tweeting Rice Owls
The official Rice baseball Twitter account is @RiceBaseball while the Rice Athletics department is @RiceAthletics. Twitter is perhaps the fastest way to get weather-related changes to the schedule/updated start times.
Live Stats On GameTracker
Links to live play-by-play text and statistics from every home game are posted on RiceOwls.com. Look for the links on the Rice Athletics front page, the weekly series preview, and/or the baseball schedule page.
National Postseason Streak At 23-Straight
Rice baseball's 23-straight appearances in the NCAA Tournament is now the third-longest active streak in the nation. Three of the country's top four streaks of making the NCAA Tournament are all of the active variety. In 2017 Florida State made the field for the 40th-consecutive year, while Cal State Fullerton is in for the 26th-straight year.
Rice In The NCAA Tourney
Rice has played 134 total games in the NCAA Tournament since 1995, including Regionals, Super Regionals and the College World Series. All of the program's NCAA Tournament games have been under the direction of head coach Wayne Graham. His (and the program's) record in the "The Dance" is 83-51 (.619).
Against The 2017 Field
If you want to find out about almost one-seventh of the entire NCAA Tournament field then just ask Rice. This year the Owls have already played 23 games against nine different teams in The Dance. The Blue & Gray won a total of ten games against programs in the current 64-team NCAA Tournament field. In fact each of the Owls' first nine games to start the year (vs. the likes of Texas, Dallas Baptist, Southeastern Louisiana and TCU) all went on to make the NCAA Tournament.
What's After The Regionals?
The 16 Regional winners advance to play in one of eight best-of-three Super Regionals getting under way the following week (June 9-11). The LSU Regional is paired with the Hattiesburg Regional. The 71st College World Series begins play the week after that, (June 17) in Omaha, Nebraska.
Head Coach Wayne Graham
Four-time national coach of the year and 2012 College Baseball Hall of Fame inductee Wayne Graham (Texas, 1970) is in his 26th season at Rice. The 2017 campaign marks his 38th year as a collegiate head coach... He is now 1,145-495 with the Owls (676-187 at home, 362-236 on the road and 107-72 at neutral sites). His Rice winning percentage is .698, the best in school history. Another way of looking at Graham's .698 win percentage is that it is the equivalent of a major league team winning 113 games in a single year... Graham is 3-2 vs. Southeastern Louisiana (1-2 home, 0-0 road, 2-0 neutral), 8-7 vs. LSU (2-0 home, 6-4 road, 0-3 neutral), 11-1 vs. Texas Southern (10-1 home, 1-0 road)... Under Graham, the Owls clinched another postseason bid in 2017, making 23-straight seasons for Rice to earn an NCAA appearance. The Blue & Gray has advanced into the NCAA tournament in 1995-96-97-98-99-00-01-02-03-04-05-06-07-08-09-10-11-12-13-14-15-16-17. The 2003 bid culminated with the Owls' first national championship... Rice played in the 1994-95-96 Southwest Conference tournaments (winning the final league title in `96), won the 1997-98-99 WAC tournaments, shared the 2000 WAC title with San Jose State before winning the 2001-02-03-04-05 titles outright. He won (or shared) C-USA regular season crowns in 2006, 2007, 2008, 2010, 2011, 2012, 2013, 2014 and 2015, as well as the C-USA tournament championships in `06, `07, `09, `11, `13, `14 and `17... Graham was named the WAC Coach of the Year in 1998, `99, `02 and the Co-Coach of the Year in `03. He was named the Keith LeClair C-USA Coach of the Year in `06, his first year in the league, and again in `07, `08, `10 and `11... Rice has seven appearances in the NCAA College World Series under Graham (1997, `99, `02, `03, `06, `07, `08)... Graham has led the Owls to number-one rankings for seven weeks during the 1999 season, for six weeks during the `01 campaign, two weeks in `02, six weeks in 2003 (the last of which established some staying power), three weeks in 2004, 12 weeks in 2006 and five weeks in `07... Graham's San Jacinto Gators dominated the NJCAA World Series in Grand Junction, Colo., in the 1980s, winning five national titles in six years (1985-86-87, 89-90)... The Austin American-Statesman named Graham its SWC Coach of the Year in `95 after he led the Owls to their first NCAA tournament appearance... Collegiate Baseball was especially cognizant of Graham's efforts at San Jac. He was named the newspaper's Coach of the Decade for all levels in the 1980s after winning those five junior college national titles, and CB tabbed him the NJCAA Coach of the Century... He was named the 2007 Division I college Coach of the Year by FieldTurf... One of the few current collegiate head coaches to have played in the major leagues (N.Y. Mets in 1963, Philadelphia in 1964), Graham is aided by assistant coaches Clay Van Hook (Texas, 2008; sixth year), John Pope (Rice, 1990, Jones College; 1st year), and Scott Shepperd (Concordia, 2007; fifth year)... On game days Van Hook coaches at third base while Shepherd coaches at first.
1,720 Collegiate Wins A Baseball Odyssey
Wayne Graham owns 1,145 Division I wins at Rice, but his career victories tally to 1,720 when you include his 11 years at San Jacinto North College where he won five national championships. Graham's overall "collegiate record" is 1,720-608 in a now 37-year coaching career that began in 1981.
Possible Starting Pitchers
Coach Graham will officially announce Rice's starting pitchers for the NCAA Regional at a later time. Here's an updated look at some familiar starters from the regular season listed in alphabetical order.
Veteran Willy Amador (4-5, 5.43 ERA) has split time between starting and contributing out of the bullpen, but he has worked his way into more of a starter's role in the second half of this season. Amador got the start in the key semifinal C-USA Tournament game last week against Florida Atlantic, where he went on to hold one of the top hitting teams in the conference to just two solo home runs in 6.0 innings. The native of Bryan, Texas, was sensational in a Mar. 14 start against eventual NCAA Tournament team Sam Houston State, allowing just three runs with a career-high six strikeouts in a career-long 7.0 innings (only to get a hard luck loss when the offense did not support him). Last year in the NCAA Regional Championship game against LSU, Amador struck out five Tigers in a gritty 6.2 innings.
True freshman Matt Canterino (5-4, 3.94 ERA) has come up with some solid outings in his debut season to pitch at the Division I level. The rookie from Southlake, Texas, holds opponents to a combined .190 batting average that is among the best marks in C-USA. In addition to averaging 5.2 innings of work for a team-high 16 starts, Canterino also averages an eye-opening 10.4 strikeouts per 9.0 innings. This season he has posted wins over Stanford, FIU, Western Kentucky, UAB and Florida Atlantic. Last week vs. FAU at the C-USA Tournament he struck out a career-high 11 in a career-long 7.2 innings. He was named to the C-USA All-Tournament team and to the league's 2017 All-Freshman squad.
Sophomore right-hander Zach Esquivel (6-5, 3.62 ERA) has made a substancially bigger contribution in his second season with the program, leading the team in ERA, tying for the lead in wins, and ranking second on the staff in starts (14) and innings (82.0). The native of League City, Texas, averages 6.9 strikeouts per 9.0 innings, with more than 5.0 innings per start. He holds all opposing hitters to a composite .261 batting average. In addition to a save and then a win at Texas on the opening weekend of the season, Esquivel has posted wins over Sam Houston State, Southern Miss, UTSA, Charlotte and Western Kentucky.
DiCaprio Named Bobby Bragan Slugger Award Finalist
Sophomore catcher Dominic DiCaprio has been named a finalist for the Bobby Bragan Collegiate Slugger Award. The award is based on performance at the plate, academics and personal integrity. The winner of the 2017 award will be announced on June 12 and honored at a gala in the fall. This season DiCaprio leads the Owls in hitting (.365) and on-base percentage (.441), and he is second in home runs (6) and RBI (47). The Coral Springs, Fla., native has also reached base in a season-best 26-straight games heading into the NCAA Regional.
Here's Who's Hot
Veteran Charlie Warren has a nine-game hitting streak where he is 16-for-his-last-35 (.457), but he also has two home runs and a double for a .657 slugging percentage. Warren has driven-in ten runs, scored eight times and stolen two bases in the last nine games... Junior third baseman Dane Myers also extended his hitting streak to nine games and is now 16-for-his-last-41 (.390) with two home runs and three doubles for a .610 slugging percentage. He has 11 RBI, 11 runs scored, three steals and a .444 on-base percentage in the last nine games... Keep an eye on Dayne Wunderlich, who is 9-for-his-last-23 (.391) with three doubles, five runs scored, two sacrifice bunts and a stolen base over the last seven games. In the C-USA Tournament he also had a dramatic leaping catch above the fence to rob a home run away vs. FAU... Junior second baseman Tristan Gray is 7-for-his-last-19 (.368) with two homers and a double for a .737 slugging percentage. He has five RBI, four runs scored and a .429 on-base percentage over the last five games.
Last Time Out: Owls Win 2017 C-USA Championship Over USM, 5-4
BILOXI, Miss. - With no shortage of drama, the Rice baseball team rallied for the winning run in the bottom of the ninth inning to claim the 2017 Conference USA Championship with a 5-4 victory over No. 11 ranked Southern Miss Sunday afternoon in Biloxi, Miss... Now in the program's twelfth season of playing in Conference USA, Rice has won the league's Championship Final seven times (as well as played in the title game two other times). The Owls also claimed C-USA's automatic bid to the NCAA Tournament, keeping alive a streak of advancing to national postseason play for what is now 23-consecutive seasons... Entering the tournament as the No. 6 seed, and the title match just one game above a .500 record (30-29), Rice knew the only way to keep the NCAA Regional streak alive was to win the automatic bid. The Owls certainly fought all the way to the very end... With the score deadlocked 4-4 to start the bottom of the ninth inning, Rice designated hitter Andrew Dunlap led off by punching the first pitch for a base hit through the left side. Kendal Jefferies was brought in to pinch run at first base, and he advanced to scoring position on Dayne Wunderlich's textbook sacrifice bunt... At that point Southern Miss elected to change pitchers as Owl veteran Ryan Chandler approached the plate. The junior centerfielder blasted a 1-1 pitch over the USM centerfielder's head, and Jefferies dashed home with the winning run... Chandler's game-winning hit was one of three he had on the day, and part of a 12-hit attack overall. Every Rice starter in fact had at least one hit in the game, but it was another sensational performance from pitcher Glenn Otto Sunday (and all tournament long) that resonated the most... With the season on the line Sunday, Otto held C-USA's top hitting team to no runs on just two hits with five strikeouts for 5.0 innings. In three tourney appearances over the week the junior right-hander did not allow a run for a combined total of 9.2 innings where he registered two wins and a save along with 11 strikeouts. Otto was named the tournament's Most Valuable Player, leading Owls Dane Myers, Charlie Warren and Matt Canterino on the 2017 all-tournament team... With a raucous Southern Miss partisan crowd of 5,216 in Biloxi, the Golden Eagles opportunistically took advantage of a Rice miscue for a run in the top of the third inning. Matthew Guidry reached on a leadoff walk and moved to scoring position on a sacrifice bunt by LeeMarcus Boyd. Guidry went to third on a two-out infield single by Tyler Irby, but then took an extra 90 feet to home on an Owl fielding error on the play... Golden Eagle centerfielder Matt Walner then led off the fourth with a solo home run. His Conference USA-leading 19th homer made it 2-0... Immediately after the completion of the inning the game entered into a 52-minute weather delay. When action resumed, the Owls were ready to play in what amounted to a new 3 game. Ryan Chandler led off the fourth with a triple to right-center. Three consecutive singles from Ford Proctor, Dane Myers and Dominic DiCaprio plated Chandler while loading the bases. Southern Miss was able to turn a double play, but Proctor dashed home for the tying run, 2-2... Southern Miss came right back with two runs in the fifth, one aided by a second Owl fielding error of the game. A Mason Irby then doubled to add another to reset the margin at two, 4-2... Rice wasn't finished, and rallied to tie it in the seventh. Darryn Sheppard led off with a single, Charlie Warren reached on a USM fielding error, and a one-out walk to Dayne Wunderlich loaded the stations. Sheppard scored on a wild pitch and a Chandler single evened it up 4-4. The Blue & Gray looked to have taken the lead as Wunderlich slid home on play at the plate, only to be called out with no chance to review... In the top of the ninth it was Wunderlich who gave the Owls an emotional lift with a defensive play in left. USM hit a towering fly ball to left that Wunderlich gave the visual impression it might go for a Golden Eagle home run and a 5-4 deficit. At the last moment, however, Wunderlich raised his arm and nonchalantly caught the ball with his back at the wall... The crowd went quiet and the play seemed to spark the Blue & Gray on the offensive side in the bottom of the ninth, and secure the program's 21st conference championship. Rice is now 31-29 overall. Southern Miss is among the national win leaders at 48-14 on the season.
Rice At The C-USA Championship
Rice has had its share of success playing in the annual C-USA Championship. The Owls have now won it seven-of-twelve times and were second on two occasions. Here's a closer look at the Blue & Gray's C-USA tournament history. (Year, Finish, Record)
2006, 1st, 4-0 2012, ---, 1-2
2007, 1st, 4-1 2013, 1st, 4-0
2008, ---, 0-2 2014, 1st, 4-1
2009, 1st, 4-0 2015, ---, 0-2
2010, 2nd, 3-1 2016, 2nd, 3-2
2011, 1st, 3-1 2017, 1st, 4-0
Regional Déjà Vu
Rice is at the same site, Baton Rouge, along with two of the same other teams that were in NCAA Regional play in 2016. A year ago Rice joined host LSU and Southeastern Louisiana in the Baton Rouge Regional, where the Owls were just nine outs away from advancing to the Super Regional round. Also in 2016, that Rice team entered the Regional having lost eight of its last 12 games. The current Owl squad meanwhile enters this weekend having won nine of 12.
Winning Is Always In Fashion
For the fashion-minded, Rice's 2017 W-L records while wearing the various uniforms is as follows:
11-7 in all-white
9-6 in gray `birds' jersey
5-4 in blue `Rice' jersey (with pinstripe pants)
5-6 in all pinstripes
1-3 in blue Cuba Tour jersey
0-3 in gray `Rice' jersey
Three Owls Earn All-Conference Honors
Rice's Dominic DiCaprio, Dane Myers and Matt Canterino earned recognition from the league, the C-USA office announced on May 23... DiCaprio and Myers were named to the C-USA Second Team at catcher and utility player, respectively. Canterino was selected to the league's All-Freshman team. Each thrived under the daily training and development program of Rice head coach Wayne Graham. All the C-USA award honorees were selected on a vote of the conference's head coaches, sports information directors and a media representative who covers each program... DiCaprio has been a stalwart to start 54 of the team's 60 games behind the plate, but with no drop in production. He leads the Owls in batting average (.365) and on-base percentage (.441), ranks second on the team in RBI (47) and is tied for second in home runs (6). In addition to hitting .350 in C-USA league-only games, DiCaprio bats a steady .347 with runners on base and .356 with men in scoring position. The Coral Springs, Fla., native has an active streak of reaching base in 26-straight games and he owns 26 games with two or more hits, including a season-high three hits in a game seven different times... Versatile Dane Myers was an easy choice for all-conference honors as a utility player. In addition to 50 starts in the infield at either third base (41 times) or first base (nine times), Myers has also made seven starts on the mound - as well as an additional eight appearances as a relief pitcher. On the offensive side Myers batted an eye-opening .412 with five home runs, 26 runs scored, and 24 RBI in the 30 C-USA league games. As a right-handed pitcher the Katy, Texas, native maintained a 4.09 ERA in 50.2 innings of work. He recorded a total of 35 strikeouts and held all opposing batters to a composite .250 average... Rookie Matt Canterino has had a solid season in his first year at the Division level. The right-handed pitcher is 5-4 on the season with a 3.94 ERA in a team-leading 91.1 innings. The former Southlake, Texas, star ranks among the C-USA leaders with 105 strikeouts and he has held all opposing hitters to an austere .190 batting average. Canterino worked his way into the team's `Friday night' pitcher as the starter for the opening game of a weekend series.
Schwarz Named To C-USA All-Academic Team
Rice sophomore Brent Schwarz has been named to the 2017 InTouch Credit Union Conference USA Baseball All-Academic Team, the league office announced on May 22... Schwarz is one of just 13 student-athletes C-USA recognized Monday for balancing play on the baseball field with academic success. The right-handed pitcher in his second year with the Rice program has worked his way into ten relief appearances against the likes of TCU, Texas, Dallas Baptist, Pepperdine, and Charlotte. The Boerne, Texas, native has posted nine strikeouts in 6.1 innings of work, all while maintaining a 4.14 grade point average as a Mechanical Engineering major. Not only is Schwarz a two-time C-USA Academic Medalist and member of the C-USA Academic Honor Roll, he has twice been named to the Rice University President's Honor Roll (which is not specific to athletics).
This & That
Rice enters the NCAA Tournament with an RPI of No. 39 in the nation. The Owls were also listed as having the 6th-toughest schedule in the nation according to WarrenNolan.com. BoydsWorld.com meanwhile ranked the Owls' 2017 slate as the 7th-hardest in Division I. When recognizing the team's tough schedule, also consider that the Owls have six one-run loses and been without preseason all-conference pitcher Ricardo Salinas due to a season-ending injury... Since a game at Texas A&M more than two months ago (March 21), the Rice offense has averaged 10.7 hits per game and batted .305 as a team... On May 19 (Friday at UAB) the Owls had their most home runs in a single game (seven) since blasting that many at home against Nevada in a Western Athletic Conference game in March of 2005... The Blue & Gray has won each of the last nine games in which the team has hit a home run... In 30 home games this season Rice averaged more than 2,400 fans per game... Senior Charlie Warren is one of only two Owl players in the last four years to collect five hits in a single game, and Warren has done it twice. On Sunday against Southern Miss, Warren tallied his 225th career hit, the highest total among Rice's active players... Junior Ryan Chandler has started every game in centerfield since the start of his freshman year in 2015, a streak of 181-straight games... After just two steals in the team's first 14 games, the Owls have now swiped 37 bases in the last 46 games... Junior Dane Myers has registered a new career-high with his team-leading 13 steals. Myers also leads the team with five triples. A sixth triple would be the most by an Owl since 2010... The Blue & Gray is hitting a combined .361 (92-for-255) in the first inning, and that is also the squad's best inning for scoring runs (61 runs in 60 games)... Junior right-hander Glenn Otto reached 219 career strikeouts in 169.1 career innings. In the C-USA Tournament the Spring, Texas, native notched his 17th career save to tie first round draft pick and former major leaguer David Aardsma for the fourth-highest career total in school history... Through the first 16 starts of his collegiate career true freshman Matt Canterino is averaging 10.4 strikeouts per 9.0 innings. The rookie posted double-digit strikeouts in three-straight outings from March 4-17 (Pepperdine, Stanford and Old Dominion). The last Owl to do that was eventual major leaguer Jeff Niemann in the national championship season of 2003 when he fanned ten in games against Wichita State, Houston and Southwest Missouri State.
2017 All-Silver Glove Trophy Honorees
Led by senior Charlie Warren as the series' Most Outstanding Player, a total of six Owls were named to the annual All-Silver Glove Team for the annual seaosn-long series vs. crosstown rival Houston. Warren led all players in the series with five hits, going 5-for-12 (.417) with a pair of doubles, three RBI and a stolen base vs. the nationally-ranked Cougars. The remaining players on the 2017 All-Silver Glove Team included Dominic DiCaprio, Kendal Jefferies, Grayson Hurdsman, Corey Julks, Dane Myers, Ford Proctor, Jake Scheiner, Nick Slaughter, Jared Triolo, Connor Wong and Dayne Wunderlich.
New Kid On The Block
Houston area native Darryn Sheppard joined the Rice baseball program in January 2017 as a graduate student of Global Affairs. He played the 2014-2016 seasons at Baylor and graduated with a degree in Business Administration. Sheppard owns one year of collegiate eligibility after playing in more than 140 games with 132 Division I starts. He slugged 14 career home runs with 76 runs scored, 63 RBI and 12 steals in three seasons as an outfielder/first baseman in the Big 12 Conference. His solid 2016 season featured a .294 batting average, a .480 slugging percentage and a team-leading eight home runs in 52 starts. The Sugar Land, Texas, native clubbed two homers in a Big 12 road game at Oklahoma last season and led the Bears with 11 games with two or more RBI. He finished third on the squad with 15 multi-hit games in 2016, and was the only Bear to record five hits in a single game.
Owls Ink Nine In Early Signing Period
The Rice baseball program has signed nine high school standouts in the early period who will join the team for the 2018 season. The list of newest Owls includes Dane Acker, Luis Aviles, Justin Collins, Braden Comeaux, Dominic Cox, Trei Cruz, Joshua Larzabal, Parker Osburn and Kelby Weyler. The group consists of two multi-position players who are versatile enough to contribute as both a pitcher and position player/hitter. There are three infielders and three catchers. All are from the high school ranks. Seven are from Texas and five are from the greater Houston area.
Owls Defeat Cuban Professional Team Last Fall
ARTEMISA, Cuba - On Nov. 25, 2016, the Rice pitching duo of Dane Myers and Addison Moss combined to hold Cuban League foe Artemisa to no runs on just four hits when the Owls claimed a 4-0 overseas victory in its first and only game on its international tour last fall... Myers was sound and solid scattering two singles and two walks with five strikeouts over 6.0 innings against the older and professional Cuban players. The junior from Katy, Texas, retired seven of the first eight batters he faced. When the first Artemisa batter reached on a free pass, the Cazadores' dangerous slugging first-baseman Juan Rodriguez, Myers picked him off first with crafty move that seemed to spark Rice on offensive side in the top of the very next inning... Dayne Wunderlich was hit by a pitch and tried to hustle to third on Myers' one-out single into centerfield. Wunderlich was retired on a strong, veteran throw by Yuan Moreno, but Myers alertly dashed up to second on the play to keep a runner in scoring position. Sophomore Ford Proctor followed with an RBI single into left and los Buhos (the Owls) were on the board 1-0... Rice was back on the offensive when senior Charlie Warren led off the fifth with a hit to left center and a steal of second base. He went to third on a Wunderlich single and scored on a wild pitch for a 2-0 lead... After the traditional Cuban sixth-inning stretch, the Owls added a little more insurance in the seventh. Proctor stroked a two-out double to left and with first base open Artemisa elected to intentionally walk Dominic DiCaprio. Ryan Chandler singled-home Proctor, and a wild throw from the outfield allowed DiCaprio to come home and stretch the margin to 4-0... That was now proving to be more than enough room. True freshman Addison Moss started the game at first base and switched positions in the field with Myers after the sixth. The right-hander from Conroe, Texas, kept the shutout intact and earned a save with 3.0 innings of two-hit relief where he allowed two singles and without any walks and a strikeout... "The experience of coming here has already been so beneficial, the game today was just icing on the cake," said Rice head coach Wayne Graham, who was making his return to Cuba since his minor league playing season at AAA Buffalo in 1960. "We've just been treated so well I know the players will remember this trip and this particular game very fondly. After the big (pregame) ceremony they had and all, we were maybe a little nervous at the very start," Graham explained. "When we just relaxed and started playing, we played really well. We finished with 11 hits and Dane was sensational like we know he can be."... Proctor and Wunderlich paced the Owls with three-hits each, and Myers had two hits in addition to his win on the mound... The Owls were originally scheduled to play five exhibition games on its educational and cultural tour of the previously `closed' island nation last November, but the death of longtime lead Fidel Castro (when the team was in Havana) forced a cancellation of the four remaining games. The Owl players, however, continued to make the rest of its itinerary destinations at various landmarks and museums.
21 Conference Titles In The Last 22 Years
After one year away Rice reclaimed a conference championship in 2017 by winning the C-USA Tournament title last weekend in Biloxi, Miss. From 1996 to 2015 the Owls had won or shared a total of 20-straight conference championships (including either regular season and/or conference tournament titles). The streak covered membership in three different leagues beginning with the Southwest Conference (1996), to nine seasons in the Western Athletic Conference (1997-2005) and now 11 C-USA titles from 2006-2017. Here is a closer look at Rice's title run the last 22 years:
|Year||Conference||Regular Season||Conf. Tourney||2017||C-USA||6th||1st||2016||C-USA||4th||2nd||2015||C-USA||1st||tied 7th||2014||C-USA||1st||1st||2013||C-USA||tied 1st||1st||2012||C-USA||tied 1st||tied 5th||2011||C-USA||1st||1st||2010||C-USA||1st||2nd||2009||C-USA||2nd||1st||2008||C-USA||1st||tied 7th||2007||C-USA||1st||1st||2006||C-USA||1st||1st||2005||WAC||1st||no tourney||2004||WAC||1st||no tourney||2003||WAC||1st||no tourney||2002||WAC||1st||no tourney||2001||WAC||1st||no tourney||2000||WAC||tied 1st||no tourney||1999||WAC||1st||1st||1998||WAC||1st South Div.||1st||1997||WAC||1st South Div.||1st||1996||SWC||tied 6th||1st|
Rice Since 1999
Using the 1999 season as the starting point (the year the NCAA expanded the postseason tournament field to 64 teams with the current Super Regional format), Rice baseball has maintained one of the nation's top win percentages over the last 18 years. Here's a closer look at the country's winningest programs from 1999-2016 (note: this listing will not be updated to include games played in 2017):
|School||W||L||T||Pct||Florida St.||876||321||1||.732||Rice||837||326||0||.720||South Carolina||826||355||0||.699||North Carolina||797||346||1||.697||LSU||807||354||6||.694||Miami (Fla.)||782||344||3||.694||Cal State Fullerton||775||347||0||.691||Costal Carolina||769||349||0||.688||Oral Roberts||733||344||0||.681||Arizona St.||708||335||2||.678||Texas||772||373||1||.674||Georgia Tech||746||377||1||.664||Virginia||722||377||3||.657||Clemson||753||412||1||.646||TCU||716||393||0||.646||Nebraska||703||387||2||.645||Florida||737||407||2||.644||East Carolina||697||392||4||.640||Florida Atlantic||690||389||2||.639||Louisville||704||400||2||.638||Texas A&M||718||408||3||.637||Oregon St.||659||375||1||.637||Tulane||699||398||2||.637||Oklahoma St.||694||397||0||.636||Stanford||690||395||2||.636||Col. of Charleston||676||387||2||.636||Kent State||675||387||0||.636||DBU (11 years)||409||236||0||.634||Vanderbilt||701||414||0||.629||Ohio St.||666||399||2||.625||UL-Lafayette||689||416||1||.623||Southern Miss||677||410||1||.623|
The Owls & Crosstown Tigers
Less than five miles from each other in the nation's fourth largest city, Rice and Texas Southern have met on the baseball field 12 times since Coach Graham's first season in 1992. The Owls have held a comfortable 11-1 lead in the series since 1992, but a closer look at the four most-recent meetings is in order. In May of 2012, a 41-win Rice team needed extra innings to edge the Tigers 6-5. Two years before in 2010, a 40-win Owls squad survived a 16-9 slugfest. On June 4, 2004, the Blue & Gray was ranked No. 4 in the nation and just a year away from having won the NCAA National Championship. TSU, however, defeated that 46-win Rice squad in the opening round of a home NCAA Regional 4-3. The Owls returned the next day to top the Tigers in an elimination game of that regional, 7-1. Heading into the 2017 NCAA Tournament, Texas Southern's RPI was listed at 267.